Page images
PDF
EPUB

pulsory use made of the vessels as being justified, during a disturbance of public order, by urgent necessity, precedent, international law, and the provisions of the treaty, article 8 of which is quoted.

Second. The Colombian minister for foreign affairs contends that because the company will receive hire and indemnification it has benefited by the seizure, whereas otherwise the vessels would have been forced to remain idle.

Third. That the governor of Bolivar has offered to the company's representative fair

terms of settlement, both as to the return of the vessels, hire, and indemnification, which offer has failed owing to the perversity of Ford, the company's agent, who would not concede two points insisted upon by the Government, viz, that the Government would not again take the vessels, and that the Government would not interfere with the vessels carrying freight for the Government.

Fourth. The governor will be instructed to return the vessels to the company, to settle the question of hire and indemnification, and to advance moneys necessary for repairs.

Regarding the railway company, the governor is instructed to report as to complaints of want of protection, recruiting of employees, and interference in traffic. The minister for foreign affairs complains of want of precision in statement of grievances.

Regarding the terminal company, the minister for foreign affairs makes the same complaint; vindicates the right of the Colombian Government to levy dues in gold, but denies that this company has been singled out for harsh treatment.

The minister for foreign affairs commented unfavorably on the disposition of Ford, first, because of his arbitrarily fixing railway rates in currency unrecognized in Colombia, to the prejudice of commercial interests in Cartagena; second, in appealing to a diplomatic representative without having first had recourse to the tribunals of the country, and third, because of his unpleasantness, rudeness, and perverseness in dealing with officials of the Colombian Government.)

Mr. Beaupré to Mr. Ilay. No. 611.)

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,

Bogotá, May 15, 1902. Sir: On February 1, 1902, Mr. Hart addressed a note to the Colombian minister for foreign affairs, embodying the instructions contained in the Department's telegram of January 22, 1902, concerning the Compañía Fluvial de Cartagena, the Cartagena-Magdalena Railroad Company, and the Cartagena Terminal and Improvement Company.

I have endeavored at various times to impress upon the minister for foreign affairs the desirability and necessity of promptness in answering that note from this legation. On the 11th ultimo I addressed him a note to that effect, to which he responded the following day, saying that the delay was caused by the difficulty and slowness of communicating with the coast, where he was obliged to send for the data essential for his reply, but that I might anticipate his answer within a few days.

The few days lengthened into a month, but finally, on the 14th instant, I received from the minister the statement of the views of his Government in this matter.

Considering the delay, as well as the importance of the subject, I deemed it best to embody a full brief of the minister's note in a telegram to the Department, which telegram is confirmed.

I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy and translation of the said note. I am, etc.

A. M. BEAUPRÉ.

(Inclosure.-Translation.]

Mr. Paul to Mr. Beaupré.

REPUBLIC OF COLOMBIA, MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS,

Bogotá, May 12, 1902. Sir: Now, as formerly, during a disturbance of public order which has alreaily been going on for over two years and a half, it has been found necessary to make use of private property in order to aid the reestablishment of order. The requisition of property by the legitimate authorities has been extended to foreigners, as is sanctioned by the principles of international law, as also by treaties.

The Government has no flotilla in the Magdalena River. This river is the principal means of communication with the interior. The defense of this river has therefore to be provided for in times of disturbance by the arming of merchant vessels. This has been done with regard to boats, the property of various fluvial companies. Up to now objection has never been raised to this practice as being illegal, although such is now the contention of the Cartagena Fluvial Company. This company is evidently ignorant of what has been the practice up to now, and which is allowed by article 8 of the treaty still in force between Colombia and the United States, which sanctions the use which is being made of the said boats.

On this point the law of Colombia is clear that vessels of whatever class, engaged in the navigation of rivers subject to the jurisdiction of Colombia are, under the obligation of giving their services to the Government, subject to indemnization, whatever may be the services the latter may require, whether absolute transfer or only the use of the said vessels.

In times of revolution traffic on the Magdalena river and tributaries is completely interrupted. It is therefore difficult to understand the objections raised to the use of the vessels by the Government. Instead of having to bear the cost of keeping the boats in repair during a period of inactivity, they are receiving the pay of hire to the Government besides compensation for any deterioration that may result from their use.

With regard to the use made of the boats of the Cartagena Fluvial Company, the official bulletin, No. 46, published in Barranquilla, publishes the bases of arrangement proposed between the governor of the department of Bolivar and Mr. J. F. Ford, the representative of the above-mentioned company.

The principal points of the proposed arrangement referred to the return of the vessels to the company; to the fixing of the hire to be paid for their use; to the valuation and repair of the damages suffered by the said boats. A suitable arrangement had almost been arrived at; the governor had even set aside a considerable sum of money to be handed over to the company, which was being realized when matters were brought to a standstill by the absence of Mr. Ford. Although Mr. Shipley took charge of the business, he did not feel himself authorized to yield on two of the points brought forward by Mr. Ford, and which while being unacceptable to the Government are of no importance to the company, seeing that in all probability there will be no need for the present to again take over the boats which have been returned to the company; nor is there any idea of the Government continuing to run the traffic of merchandise for its own account. And these are the two points which are the subject of controversy.

Had it not been for the persistence of the company's representative with regard to the above, the vessels returned would already have begun to receive the benefits "accruing from the transport of articles of import and export, instead of keeping exposed to rot by lying idle.

I have entered into the above explanations in order to give a satisfactory reply to Mr. Hart's note of the 1st of February last. Mr. Hart, referring to the occupation

of the vessels of the said company, deals also with the desired restitution of such vessels as still form part of the Government flotilla as soon as the Government can spare them. Orders in this sense will be transmitted to the governor of the department. He will be instructed to conclude with the representative of the company such arrangements as may be necessary to terminate the question at issue, granting him all the facilities necessary for the prompt repair of the vessels. For this he is, as has already been stated, to pay on account certain sums of money as an advance on the debt and indemnity payable to the said company:

Moreover, once the rebellion has been put down the Government will act as they have done in former times when the river companies have accepted the terms of payment offered. They will use every means in their power to raise the sums necessary for the prompt settlement of the debts owed by the Republic as the result of expenses incurred; expenses which it has not been found possible to meet with the sources of revenue hitherto at the disposal of the Government. These sources of revenue have consisted in emissions of paper money and extraordinary taxes on private property, as the ordinary sources of revenue have almost entirely ceased to give any yield whatsoever.

The above-mentioned note of the 1st of February last has been transmitted to the governor of the department of Bolivar. His report on the subjects which have been the cause of dispute with the Cartagena Fluvial Company will be transmitted to your legation; also the governor's report relative to the complaints of want of protection, recruiting of employees, and interference in traffic, formulated by the Cartagena-Magdalena Railroad Company.

Moreover, it must be pointed out that the governor can not furnish these reports or explanations till the companies shall have put their complaints into a concrete form. For example, with regard to the complaint of want of protection put forward by one of them, it is not known whether in a particular instance the company appealed for and was refusel protection which it was in the power of the authorities to grant or whether the company regards itself as entitled to a permanent protection, even in the most critical moments, when the course of military operations would render such impossible.

I am also obliged to defer for the present any explanation relative to the complaint put forward by the Cartagena Terminal and Improvement Company with regard to payment of light-house and port dues, for want of details, as it will be necessary for them to specify the actual causes of complaint. With regard to this matter, however, it must be noted that in conformity with the legislative decrees of 1900 and 1901, light-house, harbor, port, tonnage, pilot, and ballast dues, and, in general, all dues connected with the port, have to be paid in gold or in the currency of the country, as the case may be. With regard to port and light-house dues, the case turns on the question as to whether they are the property of the nation or private concerns. In the latter case it depends on the arrangements made or the contracts which may be concluded in the future with the respective concessionees. The result, therefore, has necessarily been that, notwithstanding the fact that the measure applies generally, in some cases the said dues are payable in gold and in the others in paper curreney. This does not mean, however, that payment in gold is to fall particularly on certain persons or companies. Payment of dues in gold is one of the measures which have been adopted with a view to restoring the circulation of a metallic currency.

The companies dealt with in this note are called upon to play a great part, resulting in benefit to themselves and to that portion of the country in which they have established themselves. But they neeil ihe impulse of a just administration. Considering the fact that the interests of the country and those of the company are one and the same, I feel it my duty to draw your attention to the above in the belief that your legation will deem the moment opportune to take the necessary steps 90 that the said companies may be properly informed of the real state of the case.

From the correspondence exchanged between the governor of the department and the representatives of the companies as well as from the reports transmitted by the former, the policy of the companies is clear They wish, under any pretext, to rid themselves of the burden of carrying on the negotiations by having immediate recourse to the diplomatic channel.” At the present stage this is quite unnecessary, ignoring as it does the nature of contracts concluded between the Republic and the companies. In the contracts themselves and in the laws can be found means sufficient for the settlement of any differences or difficulties that may arise.

In defiance of the contracts and of the laws relative to the circulating medium, the representative of the companies has arrogated to himself the right of fixing the tariff for freight, passenger tickets, etc., in currency noncurrent in the country, thus raising disproportionately the prices and directing trade from Cartagena. The commercial portion of that city, as well as the authorities, complain of the proceedings of the said representative, his spirit of perpetual hostility in everything, and the brusque. ness of his character.

It is clear, therefore, that it is owing to the measures taken and the disposition shown by the manager of these companies that instead of benefiting by the reaction now taking place in favor of peace, they are working their own ruin.

The Government has always taken into favorable consideration any claim put forward by these companies. Both the contracts and the laws of the country offer them every facility for the carrying into effect of their rights. The contracts themselves provide for arbitration when differences may arise as to their interpretation. The law decrees that the goods, rights, and interests of foreigners shall be subject to the decision of the same judges, tribunals, and administrative authorities as deal with the cases of their own nationals; that contracts concluded in Colombia between the Government and foreigners, whether as individuals or companies, shall be concluded .in conformity with the Colombian law, and that the rights and obligations arising out of these contracts shall be subject to the exclusive interpretation of the local judges or tribunals.

The fact that the companies represented by Mr. Ford are privileged or subsidized by the Republic only proves the interest the Government takes in them, as was clearly shown when the governor of the department drew up the basis of an arrangement by which the Fluvial Company of Cartagena would again be in a position to carry on the business of navigation for its own account. It is to be hoped that the above-mentioned company will see its way to meet the patriotic advances made by the governor of the department, who, with the exception of two of the boats, has put their vessels at their disposal. These two will be returned as soon as possible, payment being made for hire and damage.

With regard to the other two companies, they will continue to receive not merely the treatment to which they are entitled, as is requested by your Government, but also such protection as the authorities can possibly extend to them and as the actual situation of the country will allow. I avail, etc.,

FELIPE F. PAÚL.

Mr. llart to Mr. Hay.

[Telegram.--Paraphrase.]

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,

Bogotá, November 30, 1902. (Mr. Hart, referring to the legation's dispatch, No. 611, of May 15, 1902, reports that the Colombian Government has ordered that all the Magdalena River boats except three, which are not named, be returned to their owners.

Mr. Hart understands that, until the indemnity is fixed, the boats of the Cartagena company will not be receive

PROTECTION OF ROBERTO BECK, A SWISS CITIZEN, BY UNITED

STATES OFFICIALS IN COLOMBIA, a

Mr. Hart to Mr Hay.

No. 573.]

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,

Bogotá, Felruary 25, 1902. Sir: I have the honor to inclose copy and translation of a letter from Roberto Beck, a citizen of the Swiss Republic, doing business in Colombia and claiming the protection of this legation.

Some time ago Beck came to this legation asking advice as to the purchase of mules which, he said, he needed to transport coffee. I told him the question was one of business, which he would have to

a See also under Switzerland, page 979. F R 1902, PT 1-19

resolve for himself. He replied that he understood the risks and would purchase the mules; from which it appeared that the legation could not serve him in the matter of advice.

Since the taking of Beck's mules I have done what I could to aid him by the use of good offices, and it appears that my inability to accomplish the impossible has displeased him.

I required him to come to the legation for his papers and to give me a receipt for them. I am, etc.,

CHAS. BURDETT HART.

[Inclosure. 1

Mr. Beck to Mr. Hart.

Bogotà, February 20, 1902. MR. MINISTER: Two months ago, on the 18th of December of last year, I had the honor to address myself to your honorable legation, in order to seek protection for my own interests and those of foreign houses, which have been affected by the arined forces of the one and other of the two parties fighting in this country.

Already since June 23 of the same year and with the same object I had applied to your legation, without having reached any result, with notable injury to the interests which I represent and which, belonging to individuals, neutral as I am, ought to be assisted with due protection.

Only three days ago a new attack was made on my property. An armed force throwing down the gate and breaking the lock, entered a field of the hacienda of “El Guasimal,”' in Tena, where I had 56 beasts, and took them to La Mesa by order of an officer, Ampudia, in the service of the Government.

Mr. Minister has signified to me, verbally, that it has not been possible for him to obtain an audience of the minister of war of Colombia to speak about the protection which I have asked for as a foreigner and neutral, and this said circumstance is sufficient reason of itself why I should not insist with that honorable legation about that matter, for if the diplomatic minister of the American nation in Colombia can not succeed in being favored with an interview with one of the members of the cabinet, it must be believed that if the opportunity presented itself to have his petitions granted they would be indefinitely deferred.

For this reason, to avoid greater damages to the foreign interests which I represent and in order that the said property shall not continue to be at the will of the first person who may wish to take them, simply because he commands an armed force, I am obliged, with regret, to ask Mr. Minister to return to me, with the bearer of this communication, the documents whi I have placed in your hands relating to these affairs, in order to send them to Washington with a copy of my correspondence with your legation, with the object of asking for the direct protection of that Government now that it has not been possible for the minister, whose good will I am pleased to recognize, to obtain it.

ROBERTO BECK.

.

Mr. Ilay to Mr. llart.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, May 31, 1902. Sir: Referring to your No. 573, of February 25 last, in regard to the complaint of the Swiss citizen, Roberto Beck, I inclose copy of a memoranduma left with me by the Swiss minister at this capital, in which he asks this Government to make representations to the Colombian Government, with a view to putting an end to the expropriation of Mr. Beck's mules, and to obtain compensation for the injuries already done to him.

a Printed, page 979.

« PreviousContinue »